Day 5 Jet Lag

Arrival is easy. Jet lag never bothers me when I arrive in another country. Coming back takes a while. I thought I’d give myself four days. But no. I am in Day 5. Having drinks with friends last night, a veteran traveler said it took her four or sometimes five weeks to get over jet lag.

What brought my jet lag  to my attention was someone I ran into yesterday who asked, “Do you realize you texted me at 2 a.m.?”

I simply blinked. I wasn’t sure whose 2 a.m. are we talking about. I’ve been a bit loopy. But it was worth it!

To witness my daughter as she breathed in the amazing three rondovals  was amazing. The name comes from the way the mountains  resemble the traditional round hut. I’d wanted to get her there to see the beauty of the country where she was born. The three oldest were there when they were young children. My baby, now 37, was born in the Netherlands and is the only child yet to experience Africa. Hopefully one day.

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We had to skip a great deal, of course, but we did make it to Malamulele where I volunteered from 2000 to 2012. Seeing old friends was a bit like speed dating because we had only 10 days to actually see the entire country. (Three days were spent traveling back and forth between continents. (I originally said 14 — but it was only 13.) The trip there was 19 hours, the trip home was 29 hours. Now that’s another story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am where?

It’s possible I am sleeping. I have been awake a few times since I arrived home from a worldwind trip with my daughter Anne-Marie Braga to her home country South Africa. Yep, she was born there 40 years ago and had never been back since her father had been transferred away shortly after her birth. We took our family and moved on.

As a birthday wish, I took her back to South Africa. 14 days. It was all she had. We knew it would be a fast trip. We knew that from the start. But by golly, we would see as much as possible.

I will tell you more in depth in the next blog, but I had to get at least this much out to you. The second blog will tell you more. Did I just repeat myself? Jet lag is real and thriving in Littleton, Colorado. The trip home was 29 hours. Ask either Anne-Marie or me?

Can you tell this is a selfie? We did our best to document every step of the way. This is my dear friend, who prefers to remain anonymous? We traveled the whole of South Africa and of course that included my favorite Malamulele. Many fun experiences and renewal of old friends.

Read for the fun adventures we had and more pictures over the next few weeks.

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LOIS LANE MADE ME DO IT!

Wednesday I interrogated fourth graders at a local elementary school to see what they knew about writing.

I’d been asked by the fourth grade teacher  to tell them why I became a writer and what it’s like to be a writer. I blamed Lois Lane.

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They hadn’t a clue who Lois Lane was. I pulled an image from my thumb drive.

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Lois Lane was the only female around who looked like she was having an adventure in her life!  I decided to be a newspaper reporter like Lois, Superman’s girlfriend, who worked at The Daily Planet.

I encouraged the students to  do what I did –pay attention in English class and learn where to put commas and periods and apostrophes.

Of course, I couldn’t ignore Nancy Drew. I saw adorable faces smiling back at me, almost swooning, when I said her name. Oh, yes, they knew about Nancy Drew.

I explained I had freelanced for years while rearing five children. Leaving home was not an option in those days, especially since we moved a great deal with my husband’s work.

I asked the class if they had ever seen a typewriter. Yes, they had. (Probably in a museum somewhere.)   It felt like I was in an episode of “Twilight Zone” as I explained how I rolled paper into the typewriter and typed and retyped to correct errors, then sent out my unsolicited articles to editors by mailing my work in envelopes sporting real stamps from the post office.

Because I’ve embraced this new technology, I stood amazed at the words coming out of my mouth. At how much easier life is now, but also a twinge of sadness that these sweet children had missed so very much. Ah, the typewriter.

Relating about the time-lapse, waiting for editors to write back, which would take anywhere from weeks to months, I verbally rejoiced how quick I could now simply email an editor  a copy of my book proposal.

I asked the class to name the continents. No problem at all. All seven of them popped out of their mouths. Then I asked the students to guess which continents I had been published on.  North America, Australia and South Africa.

Then we spent time talking about dreaming and imagination, two of my favorite topics.

What  fun it was to watch ideas swell in their heads, as they edited a sentence. You adults better get to writing your books, because these kids will be marketing theirs in about 10 years! Hurry!

“OH, WHAT A NIGHT!”

Midnight in Malamulele won 2nd place in the Fiction/Mystery/Detective category in last night’s 21st Annual Colorado Independent Publishers Association 2015 EVVY Book awards.

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It may have felt better to win 1st. You’d have to ask my friend, Susan Paturzo, who writes as Merit Clark. After our announcements, we both stood up front hugging and laughing and having pictures taken. It was a moment to remember. We may have been a spectacle, but the audience didn’t seem to mind.

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If it weren’t for the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers groups, it would have been impossible to have written this book.  FYI, that’s where Susan and I became acquainted and chatted frequently about Killing Streak, her book, and of course Midnight in Malamulele.

Both of us are working like crazy on our second books. We have lofty goals and the wonderful thing that I loved about it was that before that final night, we both said as long as one of us gets a win, it was like both of us winning. Who knew we would both win. What fun!

My Denver family came and were so supportive!

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Left to right: Two daughters, Stacy Baugh and Anne-Marie Braga. Me. Ariana Trujillo, my niece, and her mom Benjie Blase, my dear sweet sister!

(When I saw this picture, I wondered when did I get so short! But honestly, they all had heels on!)

Oh, what a night!

BREATHE in SUMMER!

Dear readers,

Wow!

In case any of you missed it. This is what I’ve been lucky enough to be doing the past week.

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We’ve had non-stop slumber parties with the two visiting cousins from Montana and have sorely missed the other grandchildren not able to be here! But we have carried on valiantly. And it is a stellar time to simply be.

We’ve seen movies and played ping-pong and air hockey and designed a gauntlet for a contest in the back yard. It’s supposed to be 95-100 here today in Denver. It will hopefully be an event that will be concluded by noon. A refreshing cool afternoon is on my agenda.

The children have expressed themselves by helping me at every turn. Loading and unloading the dishwasher, making grocery lists and accompanying me to the store, creating projects.

Exhaustion is on a back burner. School starts in a few weeks. And they are having a blast right now. And of course, when they all leave, I have to return to writing. I’ve missed blogging. Know this is a feeble attempt to get back in the groove.

Summer is an attempt to remind us that life is for play as well as work. And that screens and devices for the young and old are useful but can be turned off after all.

Enjoy wherever you are.

My best,

Darla

IF ALL ELSE FAILS ….

If you’re recovering from surgery,  lapsing into boredom or simply want to take a day off,  do what I did yesterday — binge on television cop shows. It may be a strange way of creating a motive to become a total slacker for a day, but on the other hand, you can get lots of ideas, watch other plots that diligent writers like yourselves have taken from book to television.

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The ones I’ve been watching are from BBC, through Netflix.  They’re varied and character driven and oh so much fun.

It’s a wonderful way to rationalize the fact you’re not writing. And I could give you a few more ideas if you need them.

For one, you can’t get a lot done while binge watching, yet, here’s what I did while watching television all day. I invited umpteen people to my LinkedIn account. I read all the FB blurbs — and tweets — and updated my author page on FB. And it was total fun!

All the while I viewed my manuscript — the final version of REMEMBER REDEMPTION — out of the corner of my eye, mentally preparing to hit it hard tomorrow, finishing it up by next week when I send the final version to my editor.

So who says having surgery can’t be fun. Plus, did I say I am off narcotics now? Depression is lifting and whoopie! My back is better.

Thanks for reading one and all. I’m feeling better, like I’m back in the human race.

UPDATE !

After my last blog, I received congratulatory messages from many of you. And, usually, I respond immediately.

At the moment, however, I’m weaning myself off narcotics after a back surgery nearly two weeks ago. I’m taking this lucid BP moment — (Between Pills)– to explain that you will be receiving a message shortly.

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Those emails, cards and texts pumped me up each and every day. I mean it.

The surgery to remove the hardware, which was inserted nearly four years ago during my back fusion, should reduce the current discomfort.  Keep your fingers crossed! Hopefully this will do the trick!

Thanks, thanks and thanks again!

My best,

Darla

P.S. REMEMBER REDEMPTION is done! Watch for it in SEPTEMBER!

The Very Merry Month of May!

Over all, I had a good month of May and wanted to thank all of you.

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MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE was an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Multicultural” category of the 2015 International Book Awards! And an Award Winning Finalist in “Best Cover Design: Fiction,” also of the 2015 International Book Awards. Coupled with receiving an additional honorable mention for MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE at the San Francisco Book Festival, my month of May was indeed exceptional.

Special congratulations and thanks to NarraSoft, the company who created the cover.

Also, thanks to my Editor Victoria Hanley and Gail M. Nelson of e-book-design, as well as a big thank you to all the writers, critique group members and beta readers of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Of course, I must thank my supportive family and friends in the U.S., Australia, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Take a bow, one and all! I could not have done it without you!

My best,

Darla

Scariest Moment in South Africa

My scariest moment in South Africa may surprise you.

A girlfriend and I, along with my three children and her baby, were headed somewhere in my Volkswagen and became miserably lost on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. This was BC, before cellphones.

Our directions had been clear enough, or so we thought, but in a split second, the car died with no warning on the dirt road on the dark continent with no streeet lights or even ambient light anywhere.  No way anyone would ever find us. Our only options were to spend the night with four children in a beetle or go find help.

I instructed my friend to stay inside the safe car with all the children, lock the car doors, roll up the windows except for a few inches.

As I stepped out, the ground seemed dry. I made a 360 degree sweep and saw nothing. Then like a tiny match in a pitch black forest, I saw a light far in the distance. It was our only chance.

I could not see my hand in front of my face. I walked until I felt a fence and climbed over it easily enough. Then this city girl continued on, praying along the way.  As my feet felt the ground in front of me, I hesitantly stepped forward.

Suddenly, from a distance I heard barking dogs. At first, it seemed nice. Surely they had an owner. Thereby a phone. My reasoning seemed solid until they surrounded me. Viscious, snarling dogs that seemed to be different sizes and breeds but I couldn’t see them to be sure.

I kept my hands by my side and inched myself forward speaking an octave higher. “Hellllooo little doggies, hello little doggies,” I said, as I moved forward at a snail’s pace. Knowing they could have ripped me apart, I figured it was my American accent that bewildered them.  Anyway, in ten minutes or so we approached  a farmhouse. A  woman came out screaming at her dogs and pulled me inside her house.

Explaining what had happened, I asked to borrow her phone.  She walked me back to my car while we waited for my husband. It was thirty minutes until he arrived. We profusely thanked the woman and all said goodbye.

Those solitary moments on that dark moonless night in deepest Africa left me feeling brave, like I’d earned a badge of honor. That was my scariest moment, but I’ll try to share a few more that could compete for the title. Another day. Another blog.

Signs Stir the Spirit

Yesterday a series of strange and amazing moments filled me with wonder.

Thanks Pinterest!
Thanks Pinterest!

Standing in the US Post Office in Colorado while attempting to mail three of my MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE books to a friend in Nigeria, I anxiously awaited to hear how much it would cost. (An earlier quote from FEDEX was $121.)

A delightful young man worked feverishly on his computer to find the cheapest way to send my package overseas. His total was $31. I was delighted.

As I was about to leave, I spied his name tag.  Vince. I must have looked astonished as I explained to him, “That’s the name of a character in my book.” As I left, I thought about that. Of all the personnel, of all the days and schedules, or all the minutes in the day, how could he have been the one to be waiting on me? To help me. To be there at that particular moment.

Next, I went to Pier One looking for a stable tray to put on my coffee table. A petite dark-haired sales person became energized, explaining she’d just seen one and she began looking throughout the store, then researched it online. She’d been so helpful that I asked her name so I could find her later when I was finished shopping.  You can imagine my shock when she said her name was “Ella.” Yes, you guessed it. Ella is the Nana to Baloyi in my MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE.

Two situations, two names from my book on the same day, the same hour, consecutively? What are the odds? I stood there in amazement explaining it to her. She mentioned something about good luck.

At 2:30 a.m. I opened an email sent yesterday to discover that my first book MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE was listed under general fiction as an honorable mention in the San Francisco Book Festival.

What are the chances? I don’t have an answer for why all of this happened on the same day. But it was strange and I will dwell on that for a while. Motivation? Encouragement? Absolutely.

Paying attention to signs is important. There are signs all around us. It stirs the spirit.